Gag order requested ahead of settlement talks in Ohio religion-in-classroom firing case

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A court document shows an Ohio schoolteacher accused of burning the image of a cross on a student's arm is in settlement talks with the district that fired him.

Former science teacher John Freshwater and the Mount Vernon school board asked a federal judge on Thursday for a gag order ahead of confidential negotiations. The request in U.S. District Court in Columbus says the order is needed to promote an environment conducive to exploring resolution in the case.

The school board fired Freshwater in 2008, citing an internal investigation that found he had preached his Christian beliefs in class. Freshwater also was accused of using a scientific device to mark a student's arm with a cross.

Freshwater is appealing his dismissal. He sued the school board last year.